Industry Reacts to Landmark Tobacco and Vapes Bill

Daniella Bennett Remington and Joshua Opeaye


The UK government introduced the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to parliament on 20 March, 2024. The  planned legislation aims to create a “smokefree generation” by prohibiting the sale of tobacco to  people born on or after 1 January 2009. Representatives across the healthcare sector and anti smoking campaigners have praised the landmark legislation as a major step forward for public  health, while Labour have backed the ban. However, representatives of the retail sector have voiced  concerns about the impact of the measures, which include £100 fines for retailers found in breach of  the regulations. The vaping industry has also argued that the legislation, which promises to restrict  vape flavours and packaging, overlooks the merits of vaping products for those attempting to stop  smoking. Some Members of Parliament have said the regulations would encroach on personal  freedoms and be impractical to enforce.  

This Dods Political Intelligence report provides a brief overview of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill along  with a range of stakeholder reactions.


The Tobacco and Vapes Bill aims to deliver on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to create a  smokefree generation and save thousands and lives and billions of pounds for the NHS. The  provisions of the Bill, which would raise the smoking age by one year every year from 2027 onwards, promises to usher in one of the toughest anti-tobacco regimes in the world after New Zealand’s new  government repealed similar legislation.  

The legislation would make it an offence to sell tobacco products, herbal smoking products, or  cigarette papers to a person born on or after 1 January 2009. It would also introduce new powers to  restrict vape flavours and packaging that is perceived as targeted towards children and require  retailers to move these products away from the sight of children. Retailers face a £100 “on the spot”  fine from enforcement officers should they fail to uphold the new laws. The legislation would not  stop anyone who can currently buy tobacco from buying tobacco products in the future.

This Bill is complemented by the proposed ban on disposable vapes, which is due to come into force  from April 2025, but is distinct from the designations of the Bill.  

Stakeholder Reactions

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:

“If we want to build a better future for our children we need to tackle the single biggest entirely  preventable cause of ill-health, disability and death: smoking.

“That is why, alongside new measures to curb the alarming rise in youth vaping, we are delivering on  our commitment to create a smokefree generation and stop our kids from getting hooked on  harmful cigarettes and other nicotine products.

“This important change will save thousands of lives and billions of pounds for our NHS, freeing up  new resource than can be spent to improve outcomes for patients right across the UK.”

Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins, said:

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“Today is a significant milestone, representing the single biggest preventable health policy in a  generation with a first-of-its-kind Bill aimed at preventing our children and young people from falling  prey to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.

“This landmark legislation will ensure generations to come will have healthier lives, while freeing up  NHS capacity by removing the huge pressure caused by smoking-related illness.”

Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, said:

“Smoking causes harm across the life course. This includes stillbirth, asthma, heart disease, chronic  obstructive pulmonary disease, 15 different types of cancer, stroke and dementia.

“If passed this will be a major public health measure which reduce illness, disability, and premature  deaths for children today and future generations.”

Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, Deborah Arnott, said,

“The groundbreaking legislation put before parliament today sets a course to the extinction of  smoking in the UK. Every day 350 young adults aged between 18 and 25 start smoking regularly,  risking a lifetime of addiction, disease, disability and premature death. Smoking is the silent killer that  hides in plain sight, killing more people than COVID at the height of the pandemic. Ending this  scourge on society cannot come soon enough.”

Cancer Research UK’s Executive Director of Policy, Dr Ian Walker, said:

“This legislation positions the UK as a world leader in tackling smoking. Raising the age of sale of  tobacco products has strong public backing and is the boldest prevention measure in years.

“Nothing would have a bigger impact on reducing the number of preventable deaths in the UK than  ending smoking. We urge all MPs to vote in favour of this bill, and for it to be passed as quickly as  possible.”

President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Camilla Kingdon, said:

“The introduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill is a significant day for children’s health. As  paediatricians, reducing harm to children and young people lies at the core of our work. Smoking  remains the single biggest cause of preventable illness and disease in the UK.

“Stopping children and young people from starting to smoke will decrease their chance of  developing preventable disease later in life and reducing the impact of passive smoking on pregnant  women and children will be a key outcome too. I strongly urge MPs to use the important  responsibility they have and support this Bill to protect children’s and our nation’s health.”

Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, Andrew Opie, said:

“We look forward to supporting retailers in implementing the new age of sale legislation on smoking  and future regulations around vapes. It is important that the legislation operates in the same way  across the UK as this will help ensure clarity and consistency for customers. Retailers will look to  ensure they comply with the new regulations in a timely manner.”

Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr David Fothergill,  said:

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“Councils work hard in their communities to help long term smokers quit and so are fully supportive  of the Government’s smokefree generation ambitions.  

“Smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable ill health, disability, and death in England.  This creates additional pressures on our health and care systems and affects the quality of life for  some in our local communities.”

Royal College of Physicians Special Adviser on Tobacco, Professor Sanjay Agrawal, said:  

“Today we’ve moved a step closer to a smokefree generation, as the Tobacco and Vapes Bill has its  first reading in parliament. Raising the age of sale of tobacco and reducing the availability of e cigarettes for children will help tackle the significant health risks from tobacco. UCL and ASH  estimate that 350 18–25-year-olds start smoking regularly each day.

“The RCP has long called for measures to curb the damage done by smoking, which is the leading  cause of preventable death and illness in the UK. This prevention-first approach will pay dividends  for future generations as we look to improve public health, reduce demand on the NHS,  tackle health inequalities and create a more prosperous society.”

President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Tim Mitchell, said:

“Smoking is a major cause of cancer and many other conditions that require surgery, as well as  affecting recovery after an operation. By reducing the number of people who smoke, these  measures will save lives and reduce the need for surgery.”

CEO of Evapo, Andrej Kuttruf, said:

“Our survey clearly shows that a vast majority of vapers rely on a variety of flavours to remain smoke free. We urge policymakers to consider these insights as they debate the upcoming Tobacco &  Vapes Bill and to incorporate Public Health England’s view that vaping is 95% less harmful than  tobacco. Evapo will continue to call for a common-sense, evidence-based licensing regime that will  protect children, help smokers quit, and stop the criminals, without compromising the progress and  health benefits experienced by adult smokers who have chosen vaping as a pathway to quit  smoking. Evapo remains dedicated to contributing positively to the community’s well-being and to  the global movement towards a smoke-free future.”

Chairman of the Independent British Vape Trade Association, Marcus Saxton, said:

“There are things to be welcomed in this Bill, such as strengthened powers of enforcement against  retailers who engage in illegal sales. There is also a danger that with so many legislative avenues  being sought to reduce youth uptake of vaping, ‘regulatory overkill’ may hamper the future of vaping  as the UK’s leading quit aid for adults.

“The IBVTA looks forward to working positively and progressively with the Government to ensure that  vaping becomes less accessible and desirable to children, and to adults that would not otherwise be  smoking. However, this can only be considered successful in the context of continuing the decline in  adult smoking rates that has accompanied the growth of the UK’s vape sector.

The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) said:

“Whilst we applaud the government’s commitment to addressing youth vaping through policy reform  and holding a further consultation on the specific restrictions that will be introduced in relation to  vaping flavours, descriptors and packaging, we urge policymakers to ensure that any future

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regulation is balanced and takes into account the considerable public health opportunity that  vaping presents to adult smokers and existing vapers who have used e-cigarettes to kick their  smoking habits. We also would like to see inclusion of a vape retailer and distributor licensing  scheme in the Tobacco and Vape Bill..”

All current and former living UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) and current Deputy CMOs, said:

“Parliament is about to debate a Bill which will, if passed, produce enormous public health benefit  and we hope lead to a smoke-free generation. At the same time it will help to ensure the flagrant  marketing of vapes to children using colours, flavours and packaging is reduced. The overwhelming  majority of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, who have seen the misery nicotine  addiction causes, will support this Bill. Vapes can help smokers quit. But if you don’t smoke, our  advice is don’t vape, and marketing of vapes to children is utterly unacceptable. The public, agrees; a  smokefree generation is supported by the majority of the public.

“We strongly encourage MPs and Peers from all four nations and all political parties to support a  smokefree generation and restrictions of marketing of vapes to children. If passed the Bill will be a  major public health achievement by Parliament to prevent the future misery, disease and death  caused by nicotine addiction.”

Chairman of the APPG on Smoking and Health, Bob Blackman (Con, Harrow East), said:

“This Bill is welcomed by the APPG and by our fellow backbenchers across both houses of parliament  committed to protecting future generations from the death and disease caused by smoking. The  Prime Minister will have our strong support to accelerate the passage of the Bill and ensure that it is  on the statute book before the general election.”

Vice Chair of the APPG on Smoking and Health, Mary Kelly Foy (Lab, City of Durham), said:

"This Bill will save lives and protect our communities by putting us on a path to a future where  smoking is a dim and distant memory. Labour is backing this Bill and will lend its votes to the  government to get this legislation passed before the next election. There is no more time to waste."

Vice Chair of the APPG on Smoking and Health, Lord Rennard (LD), said:

“My mother did not choose to die of smoking and to leave me and my brothers as orphans when I  was 16. Most smokers start in their youth and struggle to kick the habit. That’s why I don’t want them  to take it up in the first place; it harms them and many others. There is strong public support which  will ensure that the Government can pass this legislation on a free vote, just as the previous Coalition  government introduced the ban on smoking in cars carrying children.”

The Stroke Association said [via X]:

“We're pleased to see that the Government has introduced the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to  Parliament. Smokers are around three times more likely to have a stroke. This legislation will help  save lives, support healthier living and reduce NHS pressures.”

Forest Director, Simon Clark, said [via X]:

“No-one wants children to smoke, but the idea that Government should take away people’s freedom  to choose long after they have grown up is absurd.”

Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, Charmaine Griffiths, said [via X]:

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“Government’s landmark legislation to raise the age of sale for tobacco every year and make vaping  less appealing to young people comes not a moment too soon. I urge all MPs to support the  Tobacco and Vapes Bill and accelerate progress towards a #SmokefreeGeneration”

CEO of the Royal Society for Public Health, William Roberts, said:

“Smoking continues to cut lives short killing up to two in three long-term users and placing significant  strain on an already overstretched health and social care system.

“Protecting future generations from the dangers of tobacco is vital if we want to build a healthier  future. It is vital that this Bill passes and MPs of all political stripes put prevention at the heart of  public policy when it comes to protecting our health.”

Asthma + Lung UK said [via X]:

“We fully support the Tobacco and Vapes Bill being introduced in parliament today. This marks a  crucial step towards creating a #SmokefreeGeneration. Let's urge MPs to prioritise lung health and  making smoking history by backing this bill.

Respiratory Physician and Chair of Action on Smoking and Health, Professor Nick Hopkinson, said:

“Smoking is uniquely lethal and incredibly addictive. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill is an opportunity to  introduce world-leading legislation that will create a smokefree generation and end the premature  death and disability caused by smoking.”

President of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Camilla Kingdon, said:

“The introduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill is a significant day for children’s health. As  paediatricians, reducing harm to children and young people lies at the core of our work.  

“Smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable illness and disease in the UK.  

“Stopping children and young people from starting to smoke will decrease their chance of  developing preventable disease later in life. I strongly urge MPs to use the important responsibility  they have and support this Bill to protect children’s and our nation’s health.”

Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, Sarah Woolnough, said:

“This is exactly the sort of bold measure needed to improve the health of the nation, reduce  pressure on the NHS and enable people to lead happier, healthier, more productive lives.  Implementing the ban would be a crucial step forward in preventing burgeoning poor health in this  country, saving lives and reducing health inequalities. I hope parliamentarians have the will to pass  this potentially game-changing legislation.”

Association of Directors of Public Health President, Greg Fell, said:

“This is the single most important piece of health legislation to be put before Parliament in a  generation and we are delighted that the Government are prioritising protecting our children from  becoming addicted to this lethal product.”

“It is not a done deal however, and we have seen in New Zealand how powerful the tobacco industry  is. Over the coming weeks, the tobacco industry will be working equally hard to convince MPs here  that this legislation is not required so it is imperative that we keep the facts at the forefront of the  conversation.”

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Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, Mark Rowland, said:

“Smoking harms disproportionally affect those with poor mental health and stopping smoking has  been shown to be as effective as anti-depressants. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill is a once in a  generation opportunity to prevent the known mental and physical harms that smoking causes and  regulate commercial interests from undermining the health of future generations.”

Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, Colette Marshall, said:

“If you're a smoker and have diabetes, quitting smoking is one of the most positive things you can do  to both improve your health and reduce your risks of the long-term complications of diabetes.  Smoking is also linked with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“We hope plans to phase out the sale of cigarettes will be passed into law without delay across the  UK.”

President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, Professor Kevin Fenton, said:

"This legislation will prevent thousands of early deaths and lives made miserable by disease, for our  children’s generation and into the future. It will take pressure off the NHS and social care while  strengthening the UK’s workforce. Support for this bill demonstrates vision, commitment and  leadership to improve the public’s health and tackle health inequalities."

The Faculty of Public Health also put out a statement in support of the Bill, which can be accessed  here.

Director of Fresh and Balance, Ailsa Rutter, said:

“The next few weeks will give Parliamentarians a huge opportunity to prevent the largest cause of  cancer, stop the start of young smokers and create a better life free of addiction for our children.  This will be a significant moment to transform the nation’s health and ease a massive pressure on  our NHS and economy.

“There is huge public support for a smokefree generation – and no wonder when most smokers get  hooked on a cancer-causing addiction that they bitterly regret, which costs them tens of thousands  of pounds over a lifetime, and ends up killing 2 out of 3.”

Durham County Council’s Director of Public Health and Chair of the Association of Directors of Public  Health North East Network, Amanda Healy, said:

“The North East has seen the biggest fall in smoking in England in the last two decades, but for  generations saw the worst outcomes from diseases like lung cancer and COPD and the impact in our  communities with people left disabled or dying too early from smoking.

“There are very few families who haven’t seen a loved one suffer because of smoking…that is why  people don’t want that for their children or grandchildren.”

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) Chief Executive, James Lowman, said:  

“The introduction of a generational ban on tobacco products will have an impact on retailers long  term, as it involves training staff on a separate age restricted sales policy beyond the widely utilised  Challenge25 procedures. We will work with our Primary Authority partners to provide clarity for  retailers on exactly what they will be required to do in store.

“There is a clear issue with the illicit trade in vaping and tobacco that needs to be addressed, as it is  rogue sellers that are supplying dodgy products to anyone who wants them, including children, and  operating without fear of reproach from Trading Standards teams that are already stretched beyond  their limits. What we need is a coherent strategy focused on enforcing the rules that we already have  and providing enforcement teams with enough resources to be able to do their jobs properly. New  regulations that only affect responsible retailers will do nothing to deter the criminals that are  importing and selling illicit products.”

About the Authors

Daniella Bennett Remington

Daniella is the Political Consultant for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Before assuming this role,  she worked on the Content Team, who are responsible for publishing all the parliamentary and  stakeholder content to the Dods platform alongside creating the weekly diaries and newsletters.  Daniella holds an MPhil in Modern European History from the University of Cambridge and read  History at the University of Bristol. @danibenrem

Joshua Opeaye

Joshua is the political consultant for Health, Life Sciences and Trade. Before Dods, he worked at  Vuelio as a Political Content Officer where he engaged in multiple areas of policy on behalf of clients  such as International Development, Equalities and Stem. Joshua holds a degree in Politics and  International Relations from the University of Kent. @joshuaopeaye

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